When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Repairs & maintenance

You and your tenants need to be clear about who is responsible for carrying out repairs. The tenancy agreement should clearly state which repairs you are responsible for and which are the responsibility of the tenants. If it doesn't, the default repairing obligations laid out in the Private Tenancies Order will apply.

Reasonable timeframes

A major gripe of tenants is that landlords take too long to carry out repairs. You must carry out repairs within a reasonable time frame. There is no legal definition of what constitutes a "reasonable" timeframe, but common sense should prevail here.

Consider the nature of the repair. Is the damaged item a necessity or a luxury? How long would you or your household be able to live comfortably without the appliance or damaged item?  Are the tenants likely to have lots of extra expenses until this item is fixed? If the repair is a matter of security or is likely to seriously impact on the tenants' health, it should be considered an absolute priority.

Once a tenant has reported a repair to you, you must keep the tenants informed of your progress in dealing with the issue. Write to your tenants informing them of how you and when you intend to carry out repairs.

Generally, you will be liable for any repairs to the structure of the property and furnishings which were supplied with the letting and the tenants will be liable for repairs to their own items or for repairing any damage which is their fault. You should specify repairing obligations in your tenancy agreement.

If the tenant has caused damage to the property, you are entitled to financial compensation for any repairs you carry out. This compensation can only be awarded by the courts so it's essential that you keep records of any evidence which will support your claim that the damage is the fault of the tenants.

You may be eligible for a grant for certain types of repairs. There are schemes available which will provide some assistance if you wish to make your home more energy efficient. If the council has issued a Statutory Notice against your property, you may be able to get a Repairs Grant from the Housing Executive.

All rented properties must, at the very least, meet the basic fitness standard. However, even if your home meets the fitness standard it could still be regarded as unfit by inspectors from your local council. You should try to maintain the property to a standard that you would be happy to live in.